Some time well before the pandemic of 2020, I remember the Marathon watches Instagram account taking part in some kind of epic tease that hinted at the possibility of a steel Navigator. It was huge. And at the time I had just parted ways with a Gen 1 Navigator. I was ready. So I waited, and waited, and waited, until most of us had nearly given up on the steel Navigator years later. But last week, Marathon finally unveiled their new 41mm Steel Navigator and almost immediately, pricing turned into the hot topic. Now while the $800+ does seem jarring, I think the question on price and value isn’t exactly the easiest to answer.
It’s no stretch to say that the Marathon Steel Navigator is easily the most anticipated in the brand’s history. In fact, I think the absence of a steel option from Marathon has paved some of the way for watches like the MkII Paradive to gain speed and popularity. But if you ask me, when it comes to the MIL-STD-46374F specification, Marathon is king and I always saw the older Composite Fibreshell versions as some of the best-value pilot watches around. As you might guess, I don’t really fall into the camp of considering this watch to be too expensive. In fact, with the recent price increases we’ve seen in watches across the board, including the older composite models, this pricing fell right around where I expected it.
Spec-wise, the new Marathon Steel Navigator ref. SSNAV-D is a dream. The 41mm sizing will be familiar to anyone who has handled one of the older versions in the past. But what really swept me off my feet was the addition of a screw-down crown, which had been absent in the previous models. This means water resistance has been bumped to 100m and the fully blasted steel case makes this combination feel perfect for everything. The one thing that is really turning me off though is the choice to move from fixed to traditional, removable spring bars. To me it just makes the watch feel a little less mil-spec and the move is out of character for the watch.
Marathon Steel Navigator SSNAV-D Specs
- Case diameter: 41mm
- Case thickness: 11mm
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Water resistance: 100m
- Case material: 316L stainless steel
- Movement: ETA F06.412 Quartz
- Power reserve: Battery life of 86 – 94 months
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Strap: Ballistic Nylon or DEFSTAN Nylon w/steel hardware
- Price: $800 – $830
Maybe I’m blinded by my absolute love for a specification developed exclusively for pilots. But I’m completely on board with this new steel model. You still get get the awesome tritium tube lume, a high-tier quartz movement, dual time bezel functionality, and the durable feel of a stainless steel case with a screw-down crown and improved water resistance. Honestly, to think that Marathon would be charging less in today’s age of a shifting global economy, inflation, and deeply-stressed supply chains is a bit optimistic. Believe it or not, there are other “high-horology” houses, “budget” Swiss brands, and micros taking you for far worse of a ride than an $800 steel Navigator.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.